A new lawsuit filed on behalf of Concord-based developer Albert Seeno, III & Discovery Builders could delay the East Bay Regional Park District’s ability to move forward with implementation of its plans to provide public access at a new regional park at the former Concord Naval Weapons Station.
On July 7, 2020, the Park District Board of Directors unanimously approved the Concord Hills Regional Park land use plan and associated environmental impact report (EIR). This approval paved the way for the Park District to begin work on park and trail development of the 2,540-plus-acre regional park at the former Concord Naval Weapons Station and was the product of two decades of community advocacy and partnership amongst the Park District, U.S. Navy, National Park Service, City of Concord, with overwhelming support from the residents of Central Costa County.
“This is the true culmination of a decades-long community effort,” said Beverly Lane who has represented Concord on the East Bay Regional Park District Board since 1994. “I’m proud to be part of the Park District and its effort to produce a truly fabulous plan for a new Regional Park in the Diablo Valley.”
Despite a thorough environmental analysis of the new Regional Park’s plans, which include public access for recreation, permanent preservation of the land as natural habitat, and a joint visitor center with the National Park Services that will also honor the Black sailors who died in the massive Port Chicago explosion, Mr. Seeno’s Discovery Builders and Faria Land Investors filed suit to stop the new regional park. In their lawsuit, Mr. Seeno alleges that the Park, after a decades long collaborative planning efforts to protect and preserve open space, would cause undisclosed impacts on the environment and would impact their planned Faria residential development in Bay Point on a 606-acre parcel adjacent to the ridgeline of the park.
General Manager Robert Doyle disagrees with the lawsuit’s assertions and timing given the extensive ability for all stakeholders to participate in the planning process. “The public overwhelmingly supports the creation of this regional park; Seeno Company never expressed any specific concerns or opposition to the new park during the two decades-long planning process…until now, after the land use plan has been approved.
He added, “Public and community leaders should be outraged! Mr. Seeno’s last minute baseless lawsuit will force the Park District to spend valuable taxpayer funds on protecting a publicly supported and legally approved park plan instead of allowing us to prepare this new regional park for millions of eager local park users.”
The Concord Hills Regional Park Land Use Plan provides for public access, preserves 95% of the area’s natural habitat, and honors the unique natural and human history of the land. This regional park will be a significant addition to the East Bay Regional Park District’s parklands and to publicly accessible open space and recreation in the Bay Area, both in terms of its expansive size as well as its location and unique resources. Planned visitor facilities and public access improvements include a joint visitor center with the National Park Service highlighting the history of the Diablo Valley and the Port Chicago explosion, the cultural history of Native Americans that called this area home, miles of trails for hiking, biking and viewing, and park staging areas.
“Turning the former military base into a world-class park has taken, and will continue for many more, years and millions of dollars to restore and open,” said East Bay Regional Park District General Manager Robert Doyle. “Concord Hills Regional Park is a remarkable example of cooperative land re-use that benefits the entire region. The park will be a legacy project for generations to enjoy and learn the historical significance. The Seeno’s will not block the will of the public on this land project.”
The East Bay Regional Park District is the largest regional park system in the nation, comprising 73 parks, 55 miles of shoreline, and over 1,300 miles of trails for hiking, biking, horseback riding, and environmental education. The Park District receives more than 25 million visits annually throughout Alameda and Contra Costa counties in the San Francisco Bay Area.